Tag Archives: apartment therapy

The Joys of Moving

10 Jul

Moving. The very word evokes groans, sympathy, shudders, headaches. The curse of being an urbanite in your twenties seems to be that you’ll pack the crap you somehow managed to amass in a seemingly tiny amount of time on a seemingly tiny budget into cardboard liquor boxes with the same frequency you blow out birthday candles.

Until now, I’ve avoided the dreaded repack by avoiding the unpack.This time around, bolstered by immersion in Apartment Therapy and Philz Coffee, I’ve decided to turn my shoebox studio into a home.

Yes, I meant that literally... thank you, artist formerly known as Murphy bed.

For me, the heart of any home is its kitchen (though clearly, I started with the sole of this one).

I get herbs with a little help from my friends... Thank you, Su Su 🙂

So, I’ve spent the last month’s worth of weekends trekking down the hill from my new Nob Hill pad (happily Muni pass-free), tossing the ingredients of a well-stocked life into a series of SF-approved reusable bags as I go. And because whether you’re just moving in or already thinking of moving out there’s nothing like a little something new to spice up the domestic routine, here are the five essential Sunday shopping stops to make you feel truly settled into your humble abode.

  1. Heart of the City Farmers Market: I love this place as much for the unassuming way it takes the snobbery out of Northern California produce as for the cheap heaps of berries, squashes and greens themselves. Nestled between the glistening grime of the Tenderloin and the graffitied glory of mid-Market Street, I can only imagine the characters HOTC has fed over its 30+ years, more colorful even than the $1 afternoon bunches of cheerful carnations. Visit with a travel mug of home-brewed Philz and breathe in the smells of artisan olive oils mingled with the stench of dirty it’s-clear-what rising off a heated Market Street sidewalk, and you know you’ve truly arrived in San Francisco.

    Philz & Plowerz

  2. Kamei Restaurant Supply: I’ve quickly grown to love the minimalism required by studio life. Economy of space not exactly being an American virtue, traditional sources like Target have turned out to be severely lacking when it comes to getting more out of less stuff. It’s the Chinese to the rescue, with wares from an ingenious double-decker drying rack to beautiful bamboo cutting boards on hooks to immaculate bone china in asymmetrical cuts and hand-painted patterns.

    A dishrack as silly as it is sensible. Clearly, after my own heart.


  3. The Container Store: OK I’m caught, despite my righteous Target-bashing I am a huge fan of certain purely American indulgences, this evidently Texas-based, mid-box establishment being one of them. Where else can you create a make-your-own-spice-rack or find a sliding plastic mug-hanger? Never fear, when the fabulosuly bespectacled employees start to recognize you on your third trip in as many weeks, they judge not but instead see a kindred spirit drawn to this homeware oasis tucked illogically smack in the middle of Powell Street tourist madness.

    Who doesn't love a mug on a mug?

  4. The bargain bins: My life-long love affair with cheap shopping is genetic. More than one family member cried when Caldor went out of business. Yes, I wish I was kidding too. While I’ve long been acquainted with TJ Maxx and Marshalls, Ross, with a kitchen department that puts Sur La Table to bloated-price-tag shame, is a new West Coast fling. These are the spots to scour for all things Cuisinart and Kitchenaid. Who says you can’t be a price-conscious brand snob?

    You can take the girl out of Connecticut, but you can't take the rag rug out of the girl.

  5. Sunfat Seafood Co.: When Moh saw what I was willing to fork over at my new local hardware store for things like S-hooks (to hang my shoes, obviously), he decided it was time to introduce me to the Mission Street dollar store row. Giant plastic bags full of 40 necessities for $40 later, we were ready to cash in on the rewards of our sensical spree… and found ourselves conveniently (ok I planned it) across the street from Sunfat Seafood. Browsing bins of 30 different kinds of oysters with names as varied as their rainbow shells of briny sea blues, greens and purples, there is no better way to remember that all this shopping is just a means to an end – breaking in your new kitchen with your first home-cooked meal.

If you’re as lucky as I am, it’s an end filled with seafood and Sofia rose.

So delicious we barely noticed we had to eat standing up because I didn't have stools yet. Very European, no?

Advertisements

Tuesday Blues Strawberry Crumble

13 Apr

On the trip up to Wine Country we took for Moh’s birthday last weekend, he spotted a girl selling big boxes of bright strawberries on the side of a winding, sun-dappled road. Naturally, we whipped that rented Jeep Wrangler right over so he could yell out the side, “Are those organic??” Being Sonoma County, they were, and we were merrily back on track to Benziger Family Winery with a case of perfectly ripe fruit in plastic-topped tow.

Wine Country: open road and organics galore.

Of course by the time my Tuesday night return to reality hit (the weekend was so idyllic it took an extra day, making the sugar crash that much harder), the half of the strawberries we hadn’t devoured were beginning to look like I felt. Tired. Like they’d seen better days. But, with my new CSA-inspired waste not, want not ethos I just couldn’t bear to let them go.

Strawbs, before the fall.

Let me backtrack a bit. Though I’ve loved food since I was a wee(er) lass – seriously, ask my dad about fighting his four-year-old over the last of the pesto – my first post-college apartment boasted a charming kitchen that was essentially half of my poor roommate’s bedroom. Clearly, my first foray into “adulthood” was not so conducive to culinary exploration. As I moved on up in the world (dubious) and settled into my new apartment, which was conveniently outfitted with walls and doors and located two blustery blocks from Trader Joe’s, I came across a Mark Bittman nugget of a post: “Worry Less, Cook More.” And I embraced it.

More than a year and hundreds of dinners later, I find a nerdy joy in coming home after work to cobble together a simple meal for whomever’s around from whatever’s in the fridge. But I’ve never quite gotten there with baking. Cooking seems more forgiving, more free-form, while baking has always seemed to me like some kind of sugar-coated chemistry painstakingly performed in an apron instead of a lab coat. Tastier results, same intimidating procedure. Nevertheless, I decided to squash my domestic fears of scientific shortcomings alongside a Meyer lemon to make something with those strawberries, damnit,  using what I had on hand.

The results? Not the prettiest creation in the history of baking, and it did lack some of the depth and backbone that a mixed-berry melding would provide, but my Strawberry Crumble was sweet and comforting and I did it all by self. No recipes, no nagging fear of culinary perfection, it was a healthy dose of perspective, encouragement and sugar all in one. I suppose that’s just the way the crumble crumbles.

Who you callin' shortcake?

TUESDAY BLUES STRAWBERRY CRUMBLE

For filling:

  • Strawberries past their prime (I had three little green plastic cartons left)
  • A shot of whiskey (you could have one too, though I showed remarkable weeknight restraint)
  • Juice from a fresh lemon
  • Just a spoonful of sugar
  • Your favorite warm seasonings – I went with pumpkin pie spice and a cinnamon stick
  • A sprinkling of fresh ground pepper

For topping:

The real beauty of the crumble is that you can really use anything – cookies you have, nuts, oats, whatever. Here’s what I grabbed:

  • A stick of butter (cause why not)
  • A handful or two of rolled oats
  • A handful of cashews, or whatever nut you have, pulsed in a food processor or smashed by hand (if you’re more angry than melancholy)
  • A handful or two of flour
  • A handful of brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Slice 2/3 of the strawberries in half, removing any questionable bits, and line the bottom of a smallish baking dish with them. Toss with half the lemon juice.
  3. Puree the remaining strawberries in a blender.

    Strawbs with their heads cut off.

  4. Pour them into a small saucepan with the whiskey, the remaining lemon juice, sugar, seasonings/pepper. Heat on low while you whip up the topping, stirring once in a while so it doesn’t stick, until the boozy smell has evaporated. Keep it classy.
  5. Cut the butter into small squares. Mix your topping ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. It’s fun and then you have an excuse to eat it off your fingers when you’re done. Note: Mine was a little too wet to crisp properly, which I suspected would happen because it started wet – but I kind of like the doughy cookiness of it. I’d use probably more oats and flour to the other ingredients next time around. Go nuts.
  6. Take the filling puree off the heat and mix up with the strawberries. Spread topping mix as evenly as you can over the top.
  7. Bake until juicy edges are bubbling up deliciously and the topping is goldeny goodness, at least 30 minutes, probably more.
  8. Serve with Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. Or ya know, another kind, if you’re into settling 🙂